Diverticulitis

February 2017

Diverticulitis is an inflammation of a diverticulum, a kind of pouch developed on the mucosa (lining) of an organ, usually in the digestive tract. The appearance of diverticula is called diverticulosis and a case of inflammation of these diverticula is called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis usually affects the colon, especially the last portion called the sigmoid colon: this is called sigmoid diverticula. It occurs following the stagnation of feces in these diverticula and the multiplication of infectious germs around them. This condition mainly affects the elderly is manifested by fever and left lower abdominal pain. An ultrasound or more often a CT scan can be performed in case of doubt. The treatment involves a special diet and antibiotics. Surgery alone prevents a new episode.


Definition

Diverticulitis is an inflammation or infection of the part of the colon called the sigmoid and especially of the diverticula that are present. Diverticula are small hernias in the mucosal lining of many organs, located in the large intestine. They are formed at weak areas in the wall. When they appear, they create grooves where bacteria can flourish, which consequently cause inflammation: this is called sigmoid diverticulitis, or just diverticulitis.

Symptoms

Diverticulitis is a condition that is manifested by the following symptoms:
  • severe pain in the lower abdomen, especially in the left iliac fossa, the lower part of the abdomen;
  • a feeling of softness of the abdomen;
  • a fever that is usually moderate.

If the sigmoid is not taken care of quickly, it can lead to other complications: abscess formation, characterized by an exacerbation of the clinical signs, or rupture of the wall of the colon or in the peritoneal cavity (the membrane that surrounds the abdominal organs) responsible for peritonitis, or in another organ located nearby, in which case it is called a fistula.

Diagnosis

To confirm diverticulitis, additional tests are prescribed, such as:
  • A blood test, look for markers for inflammation;
  • A scan, which is the best test to confirm the presence of sigmoid diverticulitis.

Treatment

Upon confirmation of the diagnosis, the patient should fast: he must not eat or drink for several hours. Antibiotics are usually given for ten days. In the most severe cases, surgical treatment may be necessary: it involves the removal of the affected portion of the sigmoid colon, which prevents the risk of infection of a new diverticulum. In ten days, a proper diet is also part of the treatment. The patient must follow a residue-free diet, which allows the intestines to rest. Various fiber-rich foods should be avoided, such as vegetables, fruit, bread, milk, dairy products and meats. Besides that, authorized foods are meat, fish, pasta, rice and other grains, sugary products, hard cheeses and crackers. Some foods can be consumed if they are prepared in a special manner. Meals should also be taken at regular times, and proper hydration is necessary.

Prevention

To prevent the occurrence of diverticulosis, a balanced diet without excess fiber should be followed.

Related

Original article published by . Translated by Jeff. Latest update on November 10, 2016 at 08:28 AM by Jeff.
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